I have known over the years a number of gay men who came to understand and accept their sexuality latter in life than I. Many have children, sometimes, in the case of men my age, grandchildren. I sometimes wonder what my own life would have been like had I not experienced the discovery of my sexual orientation in my late teens. Certainly some of the choices I made would have been different. Some of these decisions, many of which would be considered risky, if not foolhardy, by less adventuresome individuals than I were influenced by the knowledge that I was responsible for no one but my self. The decision to move to Chicago without out a job or contacts here, the decision to open my own business, perhaps even the decision to eshew a college education might have never been made had I not been traveling a road on my own.
College, at the time during which I would have gone, was unaffordable for me, student loans being nonexistent at the time. Although later I had jobs that had college class tuition reimbursement plans I saw no point in them. They, during that time, would have done nothing to advance me personally or professionally. I was free to pursue the existence of a club kid, a bare sustenance, freewheeling lifestyle, because there was just me. Having no wife, no children, no responsibilities other that keeping the rent paid and lights on allowed me to spend my early adult years playful and financially carefree.
I almost certainly would never have pulled up stakes and moved to Chicago to take a stab at a career in the theatre if I had had the responsibility of a family. My plans did not bear fruit, I knew that was a possibility at the time, but, again, because my responsibilities began and ended with myself I could make a decision some might consider ill thought out. I, however, had I not taken the chance, would have experienced regret, a nagging question of "what if I", something I have always vowed to avoid.
I might have never embarked on the path of business owner. Run on a shoestring, undercapitalized, the venture left me deep in debt and near bankruptcy. Again, I refused to accept "what if I". I took the chance because I had responsibility for no one but myself.
People have sometimes asked, "Didn't you want children?" As far back as I can remember I never considered it. Some people, including gay men and women, desire the traditional home and family. I have a home. It is modest in size and 9 floors above the street. I have a family, my partner and our family of friends, relations and in laws. I have had, off and on, children in my life. Nieces, nephews and the children of friends. My life has been rich, satisfying and full of adventure. Certainly nontraditional, not right for everyone, but right for me.
Sometimes I do ponder "what if I" had chosen a more traditional path. It is the only time I ask myself that question.